Do you ever find yourself in an “Us” vs “Them” mentality?
It was hard to watch the news this week. wasn’t it? To see the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia? The white supremacists and Neo-Nazi’s chanting that there is only ‘their version’ of America – a world of only ‘them’ and not us. So exclusive. So filled with hateful rhetoric, and eventually sparking hateful confrontations – further polarizing this land of ours. Us vs. Them. There is not enough for all of ‘us’ here. So we must PROTECT us from them….
And then to be seeing that as I am praying over today’s readings: wrestling with that vision from Isaiah “My house shall be a house of prayer for all people…” and this gospel story where it seems even Jesus himself was a part of that “Us” vs. “Them” cultural battle of his day. The Chosen People vs. the Canaanites. “I have come only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The disturbing gospel sees Jesus seemingly start on the side of his cultural bias. Stony Silence. Outright rejection. Insult.
But the woman gets Jesus to see HER and HER DAUGHTER’s NEED. ‘I am not a ‘them’ – a dog begging at the table. I am me and my daughter is sick and I need you!’ And suddenly, she is praised for her great faith.
So, how might we apply this? Let me leave you with a quote from a commentary called GraceWorks on this gospel.
“The most challenging issue we face may not be a border wall or immigration reform or even the supremacists and Neo-Nazi’s in our midst.
What God calls us to face is our own individual prejudice when it comes to the “Canaanite,” the stranger, the person not like us with whom we share community, work, and faith.
The texts demand we ask ourselves hard questions.
· Do I have an unwritten list of people I would rather avoid?
· Have I used language with peers and especially our young that convey intolerance or prejudice?
· Who is the person I would not share counter space at the local diner?
· (my addition to the article) Do I live in an Us vs. Them worldview?
I offer two things all of us can do right now.
First, do a gut check on your own prejudices, fears, and lack of information. The Gospel “for all peoples” is and will always be shared one person at a time. Is there a smile in your heart for everyone you encounter?
Second, be intentional about engaging this difficult lesson – that the gospel is “for all peoples” – our selves, our neighbors, the terrorist, the neo-nazi and the white supremacist. Those beliefs eventually have to spill over into our political landscape and our cultural world.”
And If watching the TV taught me anything this week, it is that there is SOOO much work to do…
[Introduce our Missionary Co-op speaker, Mr. Joe Raguso – speaking for COAR – the Community of Oscar A. Romero]